Military Review

Chemical weapons: From the Crimea to the First World

Chemical weapons: From the Crimea to the First WorldThere is an opinion that chemical weapon It was created by the Germans in the First World War, and for the first time they used it on 22 June 1915 of the year, and then it became the most terrible weapon of world war. Well, in 1921, the future marshal Tukhachevsky allegedly strangled tens of thousands of peasants in the Tambov region with gases.

But to me in the course of working on history Crimean War caught Sevastopol diary of Rear Admiral MF Reyneke, a friend of P. S. Nakhimov. There for 13 May 1854 there is an entry: “... Today [in Sevastopol. - A. Sh.] Two stinky bombs brought from Odessa to the city of 11 apr [spruce] from English [Li] and French [French] steamers. One of them began to be opened in the courtyard of Menshikov in the presence of Kornilov, and before the perfect opening of the hub, the unbearable stench doused everyone so strongly that Kornilov felt sick; therefore, they ceased to unscrew the sleeve and sent both bombs to pharmacies for decomposition of their composition. The same bomb was opened in Odessa, and the gunner, who opened it, lost his senses, having received a strong vomiting; he was ill for two days and I don’t know if he recovered. ”

So, it is reliably confirmed that the British were the first to use chemical projectiles in modern history, and against a peaceful city. Before 1854, there was neither a military port, nor coastal batteries in Odessa.

The British squadron had three 120-gun ships and seven 80-gun ships, the French had three 120-gun guns and six 80-gun ships. The Turks had a total of 19 sailing ships and frigates and 9 steamboat frigates. 10 April 1854, the allied armada bombed Odessa almost the whole day, but the shooting was illiterate. In total, during the shelling of Odessa, three people were killed and eight residents were injured, burned out of small structures by 14 rockets and bombs, 52 private stone houses were damaged. From the garrison killed 4, injured 45, contused 12 people.

The chemical shells turned out to be rather weak, and the British chose not to use them anymore, and the Russian government did not want to use the fact of their use for the anti-British campaign in European newspapers.

In 1854, the famous English chemist and manufacturer Mackintosh suggested that special ships be brought to the coastal fortifications of the city to seize Sevastopol, which would erupt with the help of the devices invented by a large number of substances that are flammable from contact with oxygen, “the result will be,” as Macintosh wrote, “ the formation of a thick black, suffocating mist or chad that embraces the fort or battery, penetrating the embrasures and casemates and driving the gunners and everyone inside. ”

In the case of applying this method in the fight against fleet the enemy’s ships, according to Macintosh’s plan, were to be instantly enveloped in “flames and a suffocating black child, quickly exterminating living creatures.”

McIntosh developed the use of his inventions against the enemy camped: "By firing my bombs and missiles, especially those that are filled with instantly burning composition, it is easy to produce a general fire and extermination of people and materials, turning the entire camp into a vast sea of ​​fire."

The British military ministry conducted tests of the proposed shells, focusing on their use during operations on the ship, and granted McIntosh a patent for his invention.

After the Crimean War, cynically telling about these "plans", the newspaper Mechanic's Magazine wrote: "You can call the use of such projectiles inhuman and nasty customs of an enlightened war, but ... if, however, people want to fight, then the more deadly and destructive ways war is better. ”

However, the British cabinet did not accept the use of toxic substances (OM) near Sevastopol.

In the annals of the history of Russian artillery, attempts to use "stinking" nuclei in the times of Ivan the Terrible are visible in some places. So, it is known for certain that among the ammunition that were in the Kiev fortress in 1674, there were “fragrant fire cores”, which included ammonia, arsenic and Assa fatuda. The latter may be distorted asa-fetipa - the name of a plant from the genus Ferule, which grows in Central Asia and has a strong garlic odor. It is possible that the composition of mixtures for incendiary nuclei was made by strongly smelling or poisonous substances in order to prevent the extinguishing of the nuclei.

The first real attempt to use chemical munitions was made in Russia after the Crimean War. At the end of the 19th century 50, the Artillery Committee of the State Agrarian University proposed putting bombs filled with poisonous agents into the ammunition ammunition of unicorns. For one-pod (196-mm) serf unicorns, an experimental series of explosive bombs equipped with OM - cyanide Cacodyl (modern name - cacodo-cyanide) was made.

The bombing was carried out in an open wooden house like a large Russian izba without a roof. A dozen cats were placed in the log house, protecting them from shell fragments. A day after the explosion, members of a special commission of the GAU approached the house. All the cats were motionless on the floor, their eyes were very watery, but, alas, none of them died. On this occasion, Adjutant General A. A. Barantsev wrote a report to the tsar, where he categorically stated that the use of artillery shells with toxic substances in the present and future is completely excluded.

From then until the 1915, the Russian military department made no further attempts to create chemical ammunition.
22 April 1915 on the Ieper River the Germans first used poison gases. The launch of gases was carried out from cylinders, but soon artillery shells and mortar mines filled with poisonous agents appeared.

Chemical projectiles were divided into purely chemical ones, which were filled with liquid chemical and a small (up to 3% of the total weight) expelling charge of a conventional explosive; and fragmentation chemicals that were loaded with a comparable amount of conventional explosives and solid chemical agents.

When a chemical projectile was broken, the liquid OM mixed with air, and a cloud was formed moving in the wind. The fragmentation-chemical shells in the explosion hit the fragments almost like ordinary grenades, but at the same time did not allow the enemy to be without gas masks.

After the Germans made their first gas attack on the Eastern Front in 1915 for the first time, Russian generals in the GAU were forced to take retaliatory measures. However, it turned out that there is not only their own developments in the field of chemical weapons, but almost no plants that could produce its components. So, at first they wanted to produce liquid chlorine in Finland, and the Finnish Senate delayed the negotiations for a year - from August 1915 to 9 (22) August 1916.

In the end, the Special Meeting on Defense decided to transfer the billet of liquid chlorine to a special commission established under the Senate, and 3 200 000 rubles were released to the equipment of the two plants. The commission was formed on the model of Russian economic commissions with the participation of representatives from the Russian government - from the State Audit Office and from the Chemical Committee. Professor Lilin presided over the commission.

An attempt to obtain phosgene from private industry in Russia failed due to the appointment of extremely high prices for liquid phosgene and the lack of guarantees in the timely execution of orders. Therefore, the commission of the Supply Department at the State Agrarian University established the need to build a state-owned phosgene plant.

The plant was built in one of the cities of the Volga region and was put into operation at the end of 1916.

In July, 1915, by order of the Chief Executive Officer in the South-Western Front, organized a military chemical plant to produce chloroacetone, which causes tearing. Until November 1915, the plant was under the authority of the chief of engineering supplies for the front, and then entered into the disposal of the State Agrarian University, which expanded the plant, set up a laboratory in it and established the production of chloropicrin.

For the first time the Russian army used poisonous substances from gas cylinders. Gas cylinders, as they were called in the service documentation, were hollow iron cylinders with rounded bottoms on both sides, one of which was welded tightly, and the other had a valve (tap) for gas start-up. A long rubber hose or a metal tube with a disc sprayer was attached to this tap. The cylinders were filled with liquefied gas. When the valve was opened at the cylinder, the poisonous liquid was thrown out, evaporating almost immediately.

Gas cylinders were divided into heavy, intended for positional warfare, and light - for a maneuverable war. The heavy bottle contained 28 kilograms of liquid chemical agent, the weight of the bottle in ready-to-use condition was about 60 kg. For the massed gas start-up, the cylinders were collected by several dozen pieces into “balloon batteries”. A light tank for "maneuver war" contained only 12 kilograms of agents.
The use of gas cylinders was complicated by many factors. Such, for example, as the wind, more precisely, its direction. Gas cylinders had to be delivered to the front lines, often under heavy artillery fire.

By the end of 1916, there was a tendency to reduce the use of gas tanks and the transition to artillery firing with chemical shells. When firing chemical shells, it is possible to form a cloud of poison gases in any desired direction and in any place within the range allowed by the artillery gun, and almost regardless of the direction and strength of the wind and other meteorological conditions. Chemical shells could be fired from any artillery shells of caliber 75 mm and above that were in service without any constructive changes.

True, in order to inflict substantial losses on the enemy, a large expenditure of chemical projectiles was required, but also gas balloon attacks required a huge consumption of toxic agents.

The mass production of 76-mm chemical shells at Russian plants began at the end of 1915. Chemical shells began to enter the army in February 1916.

Since 1916, Russia began producing chemical 76-mm grenades of two types: choke (chloropicrin with sulfuryl chloride), which caused irritation of the respiratory organs and eyes to such an extent that it was impossible for people to stay in this atmosphere; and poisonous (phosgene with chlorine tin or Vensinit, consisting of hydrocyanic acid, chloroform, chloric arsenic and tin), the action of which caused a general damage to the body and in severe cases, death.

The gas cloud from the rupture of one 76-mm chemical projectile covered an area of ​​about 5 square. The standard for calculating the number of chemical projectiles needed for shelling the area was the norm: one 76-mm chemical grenade per 40 square. m square and one 152-mm chemical projectile per 80 square. m square. Issued continuously in such a quantity of shells created a gas cloud of sufficient combat concentration. In the future, to maintain the concentration obtained, the number of shells produced is halved.

Such shooting with chemical projectiles is advisable only in those conditions when the wind is less than 7 m / s (complete calm is better), when there is no heavy rain and high heat in solid ground near the target, providing projectile rupture, and at a distance of no more than 5 kilometers. Restriction of distances was caused by the assumption of the need to ensure the projectile from overturning during flight as a result of the transfusion of poisonous liquid, which does not fill the entire internal volume of the projectile in order to allow the liquid to expand with its inevitable heating. The phenomenon of overturning a projectile could have an effect on large firing distances, especially at the highest point of the trajectory.

The ballistic data of 76-mm chemical grenades did not differ from the usual fragmentation grenades, and they were made in the corps of standard ammunition.
From the autumn of 1916, the requirements of the current Russian army for 76-mm chemical shells were fully met: the army received monthly 5 parks for 15 000 shells in each, including 1 poisonous and 4 fleets.

A total of 1916 thousand poisonous and 95 thousand throttling shells were sent to the army before November 945.

However, it should be noted that Russia, compared with Germany and the Western allies, used chemical weapons in 20, and even in 100 times less. Thus, in France alone, during the period of the war, about 17 million chemical shells were manufactured, including 13 million 75-mm and 4 million caliber from 105 to 155 mm. Edgewood's arsenal in America in the last year of the war produced up to 200 thousands of chemical shells per day. In Germany, the number of chemical shells in artillery ammunition was increased to 50%, and in July 1918, when they attacked the Marne, the Germans had in ammunition to 80% chemical shells. On the night of August 1 1917, on the 10 km front, 3 400 000 shells were fired between Neville and the left bank of the Meuse River.

The Russians at the front used mainly choking shells, about the action of which received quite satisfactory reviews. The field inspector-general of artillery telegraphed to the head of the State Agrarian University that in the May and June offensive of 1916 of the year (the so-called Brusil Breakthrough) chemical 76-mm shells "did a great service to the army", since the enemy batteries quickly fell silent when they fired.

Here is a typical example of the shelling of an enemy battery by Russian chemical shells. “On a clear, quiet day of 22 in August, 1916 was in position at Lopushana in Galicia (in the Lviv direction) one of the Russian batteries fired at the enemy’s trenches. The adversary 15-cm battery of howitzers with the help of a specially deported aircraft opened fire on the Russian battery, which soon became very valid. Careful observation has been found in the direction of the enemy rings of smoke, rising from one of the crests of heights.

In this direction, one platoon of the Russian battery opened fire, but it was not possible to weaken the fire of the enemy’s battery, despite, apparently, the correct direction of the platoon fire and the correctly defined elevation angle. Then the commander of the Russian battery decided to continue bombarding the enemy battery with chemical “choking” projectiles (the lower part of the 76-mm grenade corps, filled with the choking substance, was painted above the lead belt in red). Shooting chemical 76-mm grenades was conducted on the area behind the ridge, behind which the smoke from the shots of the enemy's battery was discovered, with a length of about 500 m, quick fire, 3 projectile at the gun, jumps through one division of the sight. Minutes through 7 – 8, firing chemical shells near 160, the commander of the Russian battery stopped shelling, as the enemy battery was silent and did not resume fire, despite the fact that the Russian battery transferred the fire to the enemy’s trenches and clearly showed itself with brilliant shots ” wrote in his book "Artillery of the Russian army" E. Z. Barsukov.

At the end of 1915, chemical shells appeared in the fleet. It would seem, why? After all, warships moved at a speed of 20 – 30 nodes, that is, even the most cloud of gas could pass very quickly, and besides this, if necessary, the crew could quickly hide in hermetic inner rooms.

In the Central Naval Archives, the author found interesting documents about the supply of a large number of chemical shells to the Black Sea Fleet. So, by November 25, the standard dreadnought Russian dreadnoughts were equipped with one 1916 / 305-mm cannon - 52 shots, of which 400 with shrapnel and 20 with “choke”. Part of the "choke" shells was ordered in the central part of Russia, and 37 "choke" 300-mm shells were made in Sevastopol from practical (training) shells. In addition, the Sevastopol Marine Plant produced 305 “strangling” 4000-mm shells and 120 of the same shells for 3000 / 152-mm Cane cannons from practical shells.

In Petrograd, for the Black Sea Fleet, 4000 "choke" shells were made for the 102 / 60-mm guns of the destroyer destroyers. In addition, a large number of 305-, 203-, 152-, 120- and 101,2-mm shrapnel shells produced in Russia, the United States and Japan were received by the Black Sea Fleet. Never before has shrapnel been included in the ammunition of Russian naval guns of large and medium caliber.

It is clear that shooting shrapnel, and even more chemical shells, at sea targets is meaningless. They were intended exclusively for shooting at the shore.

The fact is that in the 1915 – 1916 years, a landing in the Bosphorus was being prepared under the strictest secrecy. It is not difficult to imagine a plan of operation. Russian ships were supposed to literally throw chemical bombs at the fortifications of the Bosphorus. The silent batteries were captured by the landing force. And on the suitable field parts of the Turks, the ships were supposed to open fire with shrapnel.

In the summer of 1915, the Russian chief became interested in chemical weapons. aviation Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich.

In July, 1915, Colonel E. G. Gronov, and Lieutenant Krasheninnikov, seconded to the GAU, presented to the head of the GAU, General Manikovsky, drawings of "bombs with asphyxiating gases", equipped with special valves for equipment and ensuring the necessary tightness. Equipped these bombs with liquid chlorine.

The drawings were submitted to the Executive Commission under the Minister of War, who on August 20 agreed to the production of such ammunition 500. In December of the same year, the Russian Society for the Production of Projectiles was manufactured at the chemical bomb bombs and in the city of Slavyansk at the factories of the Lyubimov, Solyev and Co. and Electron factories equipped them with chlorine.

At the end of December 1915, 483 chemical bombs were sent to the army. There, on 80 bombs, 2-I and 4-I aviation companies, 72 bombs - 8-I aviation company, 100 bombs - a squadron of Ilya Muromets aircrafts, and 50 bombs were poisoned on the Caucasian front. At that, the production of chemical bombs in pre-revolutionary Russia ceased.

The construction of single-post bombs Gronov was clearly unsuccessful. On the one hand, the valves on the bombs let chlorine through. As a result, several Russian soldiers who unloaded chemical bombs from railway cars were poisoned, and some of them later died in hospital. In the 6 Aviation Company, after two months of storage, the grass around the cellar turned yellow and dried up. The personnel were afraid to approach this place, and the pilots, frightened by the first reports of the use of "gases" at the front, simply refused to take these bombs on airplanes for fear of poisoning.

On the other hand, the impact of chemical bombs on the enemy was clearly small. Specific data on the losses of the Germans do not.

The facts of the use of chemical weapons by the Red Army before the 1991 year were strictly classified. Only in subsequent years did the heart-breaking journal publications appear, how did the Bolshevik villains use chemical weapons against the whites, the sailors of Kronstadt and the Tambov peasants. It goes without saying that the articles were full of terrible details.

In fact, the red really occasionally and in small quantities used chemical munitions. There have been no cases of massive use of agents, such as, for example, on the Western front in 1917 – 1918. Accordingly, there was not and could not be a large number of victims at the enemy. But the limited use of hemmunitions was not due to humane considerations, but to the lack of the proper number of these ammunition and their means of delivery.

But first in the Civil War, the English invaders who landed in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk were the first to use chemical munitions in 1918.

There are very few evidences of the use of red poisonous substances, both because of the weak effectiveness of chemical weapons when used in small quantities, and because of the subsequent total secrecy of everything related to chemical weapons (already in 1930-ies).

For example, chemical weapons were used by sailors of the Upper Don flotilla in May 1918. On May 28, a detachment of red ships as part of the Voronezh tugboat, a barge and a steam boat left Kotoyak and set off down the Don.

The detachment walked along the river and periodically fired upon Cossack villages and separate groups of Cossacks, who were supposed to belong to the rebels who had revolted against the Soviet regime. Both high-explosive and chemical projectiles were used. Thus, in the farms of Matyushensky and Rubizhny, fire was fired exclusively by chemical projectiles, as stated in the report, “in order to find the enemy's battery.” Alas, it was not possible to grope it.

The command of the Red Army worked out plans for the use of chemical weapons during the assault on Perekop and against Kronstadt rebels. However, the author failed to discover the facts of the actual use of poisonous substances in these operations.

The uprising of Antonov in the Tambov region from the 1991 of the year has been described in many modern editions, and all the authors speak in one voice about the use of toxic substances by order of Tukhachevsky. Even from somewhere they take a phrase from his order: “In all operations with the use of choking gas, comprehensive measures should be taken to save livestock in the area of ​​effect of gases” (in particular, as written in the Trud newspaper from October 21 from 1990 in October). From somewhere, a figure of fifty (!) 76-mm chemical shells, allegedly fired by some training artillery unit, came from the insurgents. If we assume that all this is true, then the use of chemical weapons in the Tambov region speaks only of the utter illiteracy of the red commander Tukhachevsky. Even if these unfortunate 50 chemical projectiles were fired simultaneously and at the same area occupied by the rebels, they were unlikely to be fatal. Just "Antonovtsy" left the area.

To destroy a more or less large gang, it required not 50, but at least 5000 projectiles with weak poisonous substances from the times of the First World War. By the way, during the time of perestroika, fans of sensations conducted surveys of elderly residents of Tambov, but none of the numerous eyewitnesses and their children had ever heard of the use of chemical munitions. In the 1980s, I myself often talked with an old woman who was a 15-year-old girl in the midst of fighting in the Tambov region. She told a lot of curious details of the uprising, but also did not hear about chemical ammunition. Most likely, the rebels and did not notice the individual "chemical" shots.

Well, seriously the chemical weapons in the Red Army were dealt with only after 1922, and with the participation of German specialists. But this is a completely different, albeit a very interesting story.
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  1. Hudo
    Hudo 25 May 2013 15: 26
    By the way, during the time of perestroika, lovers of sensations interviewed elderly residents of the Tambov region, but none of the many eyewitnesses and their children heard about the use of chemical munitions.

    By the way, all liberal-perestroika historical discoveries turned out to be utter nonsense.
    1. Thunderbolt
      Thunderbolt 25 May 2013 16: 11
      The English fleet also used chemical ammunition in Crimea. Here is an extract from the party archive of the Crimean Regional Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine: “May 25, 1919. The day passed calmly. About 17 hours, the English destroyer No. 77 fired at the village. Adzhimushkay grenades. At 22 o'clock I fired at the church square with 15 asphyxiating shells. Passes »
  2. omsbon
    omsbon 25 May 2013 21: 25
    So, it is reliably confirmed that the British were the first to use chemical projectiles in modern history, and against a peaceful city. Before 1854, there was neither a military port, nor coastal batteries in Odessa.

    Sooner or later, the day will come when the geeks of the foggy gay albion will pay for all their vileness and meanness, although judging by the latest massacre on the street, they are already starting to pay.
  3. elmir15
    elmir15 25 May 2013 21: 37
    The farther the progress goes, the more insidious types of weapons appear, in the old days you just go out into the field you see the enemy and chopped down with swords, spears it somehow honestly came out. Now what’s not there: bacteriological, chemical, nuclear,
    I recently learned that there are portable laser devices that dazzle infantry at ranges up to 4 km. Horror ... where are we going ...
  4. astra
    astra 26 May 2013 01: 16
    Insidious weapons allow weak countries to some extent deter strong countries from not attacking.
  5. taseka
    taseka 26 May 2013 10: 09
    Gases - their obsolete, now ultrasound and electronics! But the so-called non-lethal weapons, such as the "Stinker" bombs, were apparently used in Avgan by amers in caves in 2012
    1. APASUS
      APASUS 26 May 2013 17: 28
      Quote: taseka
      Gases - have outlived their own, now ultrasound and electronics!

      Soon you wrote off chemical weapons!
      The danger has not been canceled! And there is simply a huge amount of it accumulated in the world.
      A city like New York, knowing the wind rose, can be cleared of the population in 6 hours.
    2. Alex
      Alex 24 October 2014 00: 34
      Quote: taseka
      Gases - have outlived their own, now ultrasound and electronics!

      Tell this to the relatives of those killed in the Tokyo subway.
  6. Landwarrior
    Landwarrior 26 May 2013 14: 06
    Sometimes you run cross-country in chemical protection and you think, "What a wise ... rez invented this chemical weapon? Why did they not like the usual?" smile
    I did not know about chemistry in the Crimean War, I always believed that chemistry was used for the first time in WWI. Now I will know, thanks. good
  7. Alex65
    Alex65 26 May 2013 15: 47
    .... the first in modern history, the British used chemical shells, as did the concentration camps in the Boer War ...
  8. ia-ai00
    ia-ai00 26 May 2013 18: 11
    aMers were looking for chemical weapons in Iraq, Saddam was executed for nothing (in the sense of chemistry), And they themselves, the SNAP turned out to be oh, in what "WHOOT" ...
    “The United States has been convicted of sending at least 2386 close-range chemical weapons to Iraq for its soldiers. This is mentioned in a 2000-page report, which WikiLeaks managed to obtain, which lists more than 1 million pieces of ammunition supplied to the US Army in Iraq. "..." A few weeks before the start of the Iraqi campaign on March 19, 2003, the US government had to listen to detailed reproaches from its main ally - the UK - about why Donald Rumsfeld, the US Secretary of Defense, made loud statements that Washington could use chemical weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan. Washington remained deadly silent, except for the one case when the American authorities first denied and then admitted the use of white phosphorus (a highly flammable substance) during the brutal storming of Fallujah, although this is prohibited by the Chemical Weapons Convention.2 "- Source: KMnews.

    And "THESE" still have the audacity to talk about HUMAN RIGHTS in other countries!
  9. shinobi
    shinobi 27 May 2013 03: 25
    In general, if viewed from the point of view of the author, then XO was used in wars long before the First World War and even before the 19th century in particular. The Romans used a composition based on resin, sulfur and potash during the sieges of fortresses, which gave a very unpleasant suffocating smoke. Why did not they think of gunpowder is incomprehensible Until now. This is so by the way. Later, in Europe, in all the instructions on military affairs there was an instruction how to smoke sappers from tunnels and tunnels with sulfur. It is very realistically shown in the film "Captain Alatriste". the events on the Ypres River are linked to the use of a specially created warfare agent.
  10. bublic82009
    bublic82009 27 May 2013 20: 25
    the most bloodthirsty war was the imperialist war
  11. wovulja
    wovulja 3 June 2013 19: 49
    Even the writers such as L. Tolstoy, S. Tsensky did not mention the use of chemical shells in the Crimean War. Thanks for the info.